Single and Satisfied -- Against the Tide

by Peg Coleman

"She didn't see her gray hair and aging skin, or feel her aching joints, or consider the difference in their ages."

Whenever an event happens to a group of people, the experience of it has as many different interpretations as there are people whose lives it touched. No matter how much attention is focused on the group, each individual's response will be made in light of how it affected them, alone.

This was poignantly portrayed in the movie Ladies in Lavender. As the movie begins, we see two elderly sisters quietly knitting in the living room of a small, English farmhouse. Shelves filled with precious objects representing a lifetime of memories surround them.

As the clock on the bookcase strikes the hour, they remove their glasses, fold their knitting, and start up the narrow stairs leading to their bedrooms. As Julia, the elder of the two, reaches to turn out the light by her bedside, her glance pauses for a moment on the photo of a young man. With a gentle smile, she turns out the light, and sleeps. And so the days pass, each one following much the same, measured pattern as the day before.

Ursula, the younger of the two, had always lived in the family home, which was situated outside of a small village on the English coast. Because so many of the young men in the village had been killed in the war, she had never had the opportunity to marry and raise a family of her own. So she put her dreams away somewhere deep inside, and lived a quiet life in the family home. Julia had been married and lived with her husband in the village. His photo was the one she looked at every night before turning out the light. After he was killed in the War, she returned to the family home to live with Ursula.

One day, on a morning that began as so many others had, their ordered lives were suddenly turned upside down with the discovery of the body of an unconscious young man lying on the beach near their house. Not sure what to do, they took him into their home to care for him with the help of the local Doctor.

As Ursula began caring for the young man, we begin to see into her very heart. Through her acts of kindness for the young man, the dreams, locked away for so long, dreams she had once cherished for a home and family of her own, seemed to be freed from the place where they had been locked away. She began to hope again, that all that had seemed impossible, might somehow, now, be possible for her. She didn't see her gray hair and aging skin, or feel her aching joints, or consider the difference in their ages. She didn't want to.

Whether we are shocked by her immaturity, or wonder what in the world she must be thinking to even consider a union between them possible, how many of us have faced the same thing—different circumstances, perhaps, yet similar in scope? How many of us have cherished hopes and dreams that we simply suppressed because, although we could not see the way for them to happen, we still, deep inside, hoped they would? I did. And, like Ursula, until the day I looked openly and honestly at my disappointed expectations -- and unfilled dreams, they simply laid buried, waiting to pop up at the most unexpected times, bringing disruption and unrest into my life.

However, I came to believe that we are not meant to live our lives with a secret closet full of disappointments and unfilled dreams. I began, instead, to see the truth in these words: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." John 10:10.

The thief is all of those things we feel we need to make our lives complete. The thief is the one who convinces us that our lives cannot possibly have meaning or worth or value or fulfillment unless these things (whatever they are for us) happen in our lives. How sad for us—to know the experience of the first part of that verse, but nothing of the second. The good news is, we can reverse that. We can know what our Creator meant when He said "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." But how do we do that, you might ask, how can I begin? We begin by getting to know the One who made that promise. And as we do, we begin to discover He is a person who keeps His word to us.

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